Sen. Ron Johnson’s $10 million Deferred Compensation Raises Ethics Questions

Far-right Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) spent roughly $9 million of his own money last year to finance his senatorial campaign. Lucky for him, shortly after his campaign ended, he received $10 million in deferred compensation from the plastics company he used to run.

This alone would warrant some questions, but the details of the compensation package cast even more suspicion over the deal. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Unlike most deferred package deals, however, it appears that the company had not set aside a specified amount annually that would be paid out when he left the firm. Instead, Johnson said the $10 million payment was "an agreed-upon amount" that was determined at the end of his tenure with the company.

 Agreed upon with whom?

"That would be me," he said.

Is it just a coincidence that the amount Johnson spent on his campaign so closely matches the amount he received in compensation? Quite possibly, but it is also enough to provoke some legitimate questions. Long-standing campaign finance laws prohibit corporations from directly funding campaigns for federal office, and if it were to come out that Johnson was reimbursed for his expenditures it would be a major campaign finance violation. So how does Johnson respond to questions about his spending? Again, from the Journal-Sentinel:

The first-term Republican declined to say how his Oshkosh firm, Pacur, came up with a figure that so closely mirrored the amount he personally put into his campaign fund.

 “You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?” Johnson said this week. “It’s a private business. I’ve complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don’t have to explain it any further to someone like you.”

And who is this “someone like you” that Ron Johnson doesn’t have to explain himself to? A reporter asking a legitimate question.


H/t to Brian Beutler at TPM